Lopez leads Loeb in a Citroen 1-2 in the first Vila Real race

Citroen’s Joss Maria Lopez won the first race of the day at the Vila Real circuit ahead of team-mate Sebastien Loeb, leading a Citroen 1-2.

Zengo Motorsport Honda driver Norbert Michelisz was third in a race which saw all the action contained within the first lap.

Lopez and Loeb had a great launch at the start with Lopez leading his French team-mate into the first chicane, while Hugo Valente bogged down from third on the grid in the Campos Racing Chevrolet and was swamped by the three Hondas behind of Michelisz, Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro.

Valente was now also under attack by the two Citroens of Yvan Muller and Ma Qing Hua. Muller and Hua had both launched themselves past the two Ladas of Jaap van Lagen and Nicky Catsburg.

Muller when trying to pass Valente’s Chevrolet down the left side up the hill, Valente moved to cover him off which allowed Hua instead to pass the young French driver around the other side and up into sixth.

Valente fought back, but the two made contact, with Valente sustaining damage and crawled back to the pit lane to become the race's first retirement.

The second retirement was Nika Racing’s Nestor Girolami, who had an oil pressure problem from the start. The team worked on the issue during the race and the Argentinian joined the race several laps down to check the problem was resolved.

The remainder of the race was a general procession around the tight Portuguese street circuit, with the closest battles between Honda and Citroen drivers Monteiro and Hua for fifth, and the two privateer Chevrolets of John Filippi and Gregoire Demoustier for 15th.

Lopez won the race ahead of Loeb with Michelisz third ahead of the two factory Hondas of Tarquini and Monteiro, with Hua and Muller sixth and seventh, followed by the three Ladas of Lagen, Catsburg and Rob Huff completing the top ten.

Race two takes place at 17:15 local time with Hua starting from pole position for Citroen ahead of Muller.

Neil Hudson/TouringCarTimes

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About this article
Series WTCC
Event Vila Real
Track Circuito Internacional de Vila Real
Drivers Sébastien Loeb , Jose Maria Lopez , Norbert Michelisz
Teams Citroën World Touring Car team
Article type Race report